SUSMILK - Re-design of the dairy industry for sustainable milk processing (2013-2016)

Industrial food production serves to satisfy basic human needs. The dairy industry accounts with 13% turnover for the total food and drink industry in Europe. The aim of the project SUSMILK is to initialize a change within the process chain for market milk and milk products to minimize energy and water consumption and establish the use of renewable energy resources. For the SUSMILK project, 21 partners from all over Europe joined in a consortium co-funded by the European Commission within the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7).

Milk processing is characterized by a large variety of heating and cooling processes. Main activities in the SUSMILK project are intended to substitute steam as heat transfer medium by hot water produced by means of renewable resources. The supply of heat and electricity shall be completely covered by combined heat and power generation, heat pumps, solar heat and, where appropriate, on-site produced biogas or other renewable fuels produced from waste. Since machines and equipment are often used over time periods up to 30 years in the food industry, such innovations will have an impact on energy consumption and CO2-emissions for the next decades.

To assure a sustainable supply of energy and raw materials over such a long time, the system change is to be implemented in an early stage. Closing water circuits, recycling of CIP solutions containing high organic load and recovery of the inherent heat is a second challenging part of the project.

As a further means to save water and energy, the pre-concentration of milk on the dairy farm will be investigated. This measure has the potential to reduce transport energy, to reduce the sizes of tanks and machines installed in the dairy and possibly increase the efficiency of production processes for cheese, yoghurt and other dairy products.

The whole project includes the development of technical components, their installation and testing at partner dairies of all sizes as well as a process simulation of a “green dairy” and the life cycle assessment (LCA) of these developments.

ESU-services is responsible for the LCA of the new technologies developed in the SUSMILK project. In the first step an LCA of a generic dairy is prepared. In the second step different improvement potentials are assessed by developing scenarios for a Green dairy. This work perfectly combines two of our main fields of expertise: food production and energy technologies.

The GreenDairyNet, a private contact, meeting and knowledge sharing platform for experts and stakeholders of the European dairy sector interested in sustainable development and resource efficient processing technologies has also been established in the project.

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme for research, technological development and demonstration.